Creative Portrait Session: Smoke

Why a creative portrait session?

The goal for all my photoshoots is to take the best picture you’ve ever seen of yourself. They are about creating something special for you to remember for a lifetime. With a creative portrait session, you are choosing a completely bespoke experience, tailored to your ideas.

How do you want to be photographed?

This is the first question I ask clients for a creative shoot. For Sergio, who directs short films, he wanted something film noir, something of an old movie style. When he casually showed me film stills with people smoking – I knew we had our theme.

I’ve never actually been a fan of cigarettes. I grew up in a heavy smoking environment and didn’t relish the thought of promoting or being in a room filled with smoke.  We settled on vaping as it would produce more ‘smoke’, making it easier to capture in camera, and wouldn’t produce so many chemicals as cigarette smoke. In fact it smelled like blueberries.

This session was always going to be black and white. However, to offer some variety I kept a few images in colour, choosing a retro blue tone to evoke my childhood memories of a smoky filled room. I think a few of these turned out to be my favourite.

If you’d like to see other creative portraits my gallery is here Portraits

Below is a 30 seconds behind the scenes video of the shoot!

Behind the scenes

Smoke constantly moves and to make sure I caught the trails and patterns I focused on lighting and shutter speed.

Studio lighting

I used two studio lights to create the effect. One light with a 4ft octabox was placed overhead to light Sergio and create dark shadows under his nose and chin.

I used a strip light on my left placing it slighting in front of Sergio. This would light up the smoke he produced, but not spill onto the backdrop.

Camera settings

My shutter speed was at 1/200 sec at f/9 with an ISO at 200.

Importantly, to capture the unique smoke patterns, I set my focus mode to continuous shooting (AF-C) on low, which on my camera took 5 consecutive images each time I pressed the shutter.

A behind the scenes image in black and white of a man vaping at a portrait session in north London

The final creative & bespoke portrait collection